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Plant-derived protein powders to influence evolving human nutrition trends

  • Published Date: June 25, 2021

Protein powder market has undergone significant transformation over the past decade. Consumers are nowadays stressing more on maintaining their physical health and fitness by taking inspiration from celebrities and fitness models on social media. Prevalence of health conditions like obesity has motivated people to adopt hobbies like sports activities and has encouraged to purchase of gym memberships. According to the IHRSA, the health club sector value in the U.S. had reached $32.3 billion during 2018, which was around 2.8% growth over 2017.

To make the most from workouts, gym goers are consuming protein supplements/powders that help loose or gain weight, maintain overall fitness, and tone muscles. Protein is essential for the human body as it helps in building muscles, creating enzymes and hormones and for repairing tissues. A deficiency of this essential macronutrient can impact overall bodily functions and bone, skin, and muscle growth.

Protein powders are mostly derived from dairy, eggs, soy, rice or peas. They are consumed by a majority of individuals that are looking to lose weight or are seeking to satisfy their daily macronutrient targets, especially when protein intake is insufficient. It is estimated that global protein powder market will reach a valuation of $30.5 billion by 2027.

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Benefits of protein powder

Protein powders are available in a variety of categories depending on their source. Whey protein, soy protein, and plant-based protein powder are some of the common ingredients that consumers are purchasing from local health food stores or from e-commerce platforms. Among its types, whey protein is the most consumed protein powder as it improves their physical performance and strength. The ingredient is very popular across sports nutrition applications.

Consumed as a nutrition supplement, whey protein can help improve muscle protein synthesis and boost growth of lean muscle mass when taken with resistance exercise. Some key takeaways of whey protein include easy soluble in water and presence of around 9 essential amino acids that are required for protein synthesis and muscle repair. They are also quickly and easily digestible and absorbed by the body and helps boost energy.

Animal sourced proteins are the traditional ingredients used for muscle building and mass gains. Egg and fish-based protein powder has an incredible demand worldwide, as most countries have a small share of vegan population. The ingredients are also ideal for animal nutrition applications, owing to the high nourishment requirements of livestock like swine, poultry, and equine.

However, certain studies have warned against excessive consumption of whey protein by humans. For instance, a 2019 study by the Louisville School of Medicine mentioned that protein supplementation should only be taken as a short-term solution to meet training requirement and not as a long-term replacement for healthy eating habits.

Likewise, in 2020, a Harvard School of Medicine study stated that protein supplements may contain additives, flavors, sugars, and other chemicals and are not regulated in most countries. Many companies are adding artificial sweeteners and additives into their protein powders to cut production cost and make protein products taste better than ones offered by competitors. It vital to note that overuse of whey protein can lead to certain side effects like bloating & gas, mostly with individuals that have poor digestion or the ones that suffer from lactose intolerance.

As an alternative, plant-based proteins are steadily gaining acceptance by consumers facing issues with regards to whey protein. It is speculated that milk sugar found in whey protein mainly contributes to side effects like flatulence and painful bloating in people with food sensitivities. On the contrary, plant-based protein powders are easily digested, absorbed, and eliminated. It supports higher protein absorption capability which helps with growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass. According to Raw Sport, nearly 70% of its customers are ready to exclude dairy from their diets, which indicates a significant future scope for plant-based protein powder in sports nutrition.

Factors like increasing awareness regarding the benefits of plant-based alternatives, rising demand for protein supplements that promote health and well-being, and adoption of vegan diet as a means of endorsing animal welfare will boost the production and sale of plant-based protein powder over the coming years. Influenced by emerging demand for plant-based protein powder, many companies that specialize in healthcare products are developing new organic protein supplements. In 2020, Laird Superfood accelerated its focus on plant-based superfood products with the launch of RENEW Plant-Based protein powder that features 9 natural essential amino acids.

What are the future prospects of global protein powder market?

Manufacturers and producers of protein powder are launching new plant-sourced product lines, acquiring related firms to boost brand and product offering, and are participating in R&D activities to expand and diversify their products to meet current market and consumer demand. Other key market drivers include initiatives to incorporate reliable and sustainable production of high-quality protein by means of utilizing big data technologies and robotics.

Use of blockchain technology for enabling secure and immediate transactions in the supply chain can also help businesses operating in the protein powder industry. Certain protein powder manufacturers are also expanding their existing facilities and operations. In 2021, Protein Industries Canada invested $7.9 million in a plant protein project for Canadian Brands like Daiya & Merit Functional Foods. The project will utilize some of most widely grown crops in Canada that are used for the development of new plant-based foods.

In conclusion, the global protein-based supplements market is expected to record dynamic growth supported by rising consciousness towards maintaining physical health, changing consumer dietary patterns and high spending on healthcare products and supplements. Advancements in the manufacturing sector and emergence of new brands and products that cater to evolving consumer needs will shape the growth prospects of protein powder industry between 2021-2027. 

Author: Global Market Insights, Inc.
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